Skip to main content

Arizona Cardinals Home: The official source of the latest Cardinals headlines, news, videos, photos, tickets, rosters and game day information

Learning On The Job, Darius Robinson Just Wants To Listen

Cardinals rookie defensive lineman honing his study habits

Rookie defensive lineman Darius Robinson goes through a drill during a recent OTA with teammate Ben Stille (90) in the background.
Rookie defensive lineman Darius Robinson goes through a drill during a recent OTA with teammate Ben Stille (90) in the background.

Ben Stille, the day long over for Cardinals veterans, makes the effort to call rookie teammate Darius Robinson each night.

The two defensive linemen go over the playbook together, as Stille delivers whatever advice he can to the team's first-round pick.

"I always like to help young guys out," said Stille, who came into the league in 2022. "Darius is eager to learn."

Robinson appreciates the help – "I have a lot of guys in my room that want the best for me" – but in a time of the year where the 6-foot-5, 286-pounder can't show much of what he can do on the field because of non-contact rules, it's Robinson's brain that is working overtime.

Robinson takes copious notes and dissects the practice script. He watches video and soaks up the conversations he hears in his position room. He wants to learn it all.

"I feel like he's going to play as long as he wants to play," veteran defensive lineman Justin Jones said. "He has a great understanding of ball. I feel like he knows scheme, he knows concepts, he's very smart. And I haven't even touched on his athletic ability. I'm just talking about his knowledge of the game."

Fittingly, it was in college where Robinson said such habits were formed, the benefit of having Stille-like seniors on the roster when Robinson was a freshman at Missouri. It's how Robinson was able to have success at points both as an inside defensive lineman and coming off the edge -- although his role with the Cardinals figures to be moving around as a down lineman.

The learning curve in the NFL is steeper, of course. The play call was the call in college, Robinson said, whereas in the pros there are offshoots to his responsibilities depending on what the offense does both pre- and post-snap.

"He's made some mistakes," coach Jonathan Gannon said, "but he's not struggling with the playbook."

Robinson may be a first-round pick, but the Cardinals have upgraded all around him to lessen the pressure he may feel in his first season. Jones and Bilal Nichols were added as free agents, Roy Lopez is in his first full season with the Cardinals, Dante Stills flashed as a rookie and the Cards have other vets in a much-improved room.

The rotation defensive coordinator Nick Rallis employs also means Robinson needs to contribute, not necessarily star – at least not yet.

"Him being so explosive and knowing so much about the game, he's going to be a problem for a lot of teams," Jones said.

Robinson is so deep into his prep phase that with five weeks off looming after next week's mandatory minicamp – basically the first extended time off Robinson or any of the rookies have had since training camp started for their final college season – he's planning on going right back to Missouri.

There he'll probably continue to work out at his former school. His biggest fear now, he said, was coming back to training camp not in shape or prepared to play.

Not that Robinson's spot is in question. Stille, himself battling for a roster spot, certainly understands that when he reaches out to help.

"It's part of being a good teammate," Stille said. "Darius specifically, there's no secret that he's made the team. From that aspect, it's not a thing with him."

So Stille will make his calls. And Robinson will be there to answer. It's how he'll become the player he wants to be.

"My favorite quote is, 'How do you get wisdom when you talk and never listen,'" Robinson said. "That's what I am doing right now is just listening."

Images from Week 3 of the Arizona Cardinals 2024 offseason training activities